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Genesis - We Can't Dance CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.66 | 1353 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars I used to think of We Can't Dance as basically Phillip and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Album. Now I see it as a veteran band's sincere, and ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to stay relevant.

We Can't Dance can be seen as four sets of three songs:

I. Decent pop/rock: "No Son of Mine," "Jesus He Knows Me," "I Can't Dance." Five singles were released from We Can't Dance in the US, and these are the three that hit the rock airplay chart. None approaches "Turn it On Again" or "Misunderstanding" - - and "No Son of Mine" is way too long - - but this is the best material here.

II. Longer-form we're-still-prog songs: "Driving the Last Spike," "Dreaming While You Sleep," "Fading Lights." Ugh. I mean, they are trying, but in my opinion it's just not working. Each song here has a kernel which probably could have been developed into a Decent Pop/Rock Song. There is also an occasional cool riff here and there, but most of it comes off as a stretch. (I mean that literally; these songs average over nine minutes each.)

III. Mushy adult-contemporary schlock: "Never a Time," "Hold On My Heart," "Since I Lost You." After Phil Collins's singles started charting higher than Genesis singles, some people began complaining that one Genesis song or another "sounds like a Phil Collins song." That was meant derisively, but in my opinion, it depends on the song - - for example, how bad would it be for a Genesis song to sound like "In the Air Tonight" or "Inside Out"?

But on the other hand, how bad would it be if a Genesis song sounded like "One More Night" or "Groovy Kind of Love"? Unfortunately, with We Can't Dance, we get to find out.

IV. Filler: "Tell Me Why," "Living Forever," "Way of the World" OK, look: We Can't Dance is more than 72 minutes long. What harm would've been done by leaving these songs off the album? Without them, We Can't Dance still would've been ten minutes longer than Invisible Touch or Genesis or Abacab.

Some have pointed out that We Can't Dance represented a return to more of of "rock" sound - - that the band had realized that they'd "gone to far" with Invisible Touch and its remix-friendly pop/dance fare. Personally, I think the change of direction on We Can't Dance was more a reflection of the times. Invisible Touch was their biggest hit ever. Why change the formula?

Invisible Touch debuted on the Billboard Top 200 album chart on June 28, 1986. Synth-heavy rock was at its peak, with 5150 (Van Halen), Raised on Radio (Journey), The Other Side of Life (Moody Blues) and So (Peter Gabriel) all in the top 10. On the other hand, when We Can't Dance debuted at #4 the last week of November 1991, the other rock albums in the top ten were Nevermind (Nirvana), Use Your Illusion II (Guns N' Roses) and Metallica (Metallica).

Things were changing in the music business, and by 1991, Genesis was reacting to those changes, not shaping them. We Can't Dance is not a good album, nor an important album. Kudos to the three members of Genesis for realizing that drastic measures would be necessary for the band to remain relevant - - though sadly, such measures were unsuccessful. Nonetheless, no matter how great or terrible We Can't Dance is, it hardly tarnishes the Genesis brand identity. We'll always have A Trick of the Tail, Seconds Out, and the rest of the highlights of the Collins Era.

patrickq | 2/5 |


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